The Airborne Warning and Control System (so called AWACS) is placed right on the top of the Boeing E-3A Sentry, which is a specially adapted plane derived from Boeing 707-320B, and is equipped with radar, which is able to detect significant number of air targets and monitor traffic on greater distance and lesser heights. The prototype firstly took off on February 5, 1972, the first production of this aircraft started in October 1975.
North Atlantic Organization runs joint unit including 16 planes E-3A Sentry (guard, watch) delivered during 1982-1985 with home base at German Geilenkirchen. However Sentries are registered with Luxembourg even though the planes standardly use some of the forward NATO’s bases in Europe – Trapani in Italy, Aktion in Greece, Konya in Turkey and Orland in Norway. The service of Sentries is provided by international crews of specialists from 15 member’s states (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Greece, Spain, Turkey and USA).
During a flight in the operational height of 9,150m, one E-3A is able to nonstop monitor an area of 312,000 km2. This can happen due to the installed radar, whose hydraulically rotating antenna system is located in the rotodome tilted down to the fuselage. The crew is able to detect low-flying target at distance up to 400 km and the middle-flying ones up to 520 km distance. A standard crew consists of two pilots, navigator, flight engineer and twelve specialists. Their number might be variably changed according to distance of missions. France, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and USA operate various versions of E-3 as well besides NATO.
|Empty weight||73,480 kg|
|Max. takeoff weight||147,429 kg|
|Max. speed||853 km/h|
> 10 h
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